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

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Heard It on the Podcast - November 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:

S2E49: Traveling with Your Crafts

      Wednesday, November 23, 2022

      Heard it on the Podcast - November 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:

      S2E48: Facial Skin Care Routines

        And Christen mentioned:

        Monday, November 21, 2022

        A Basic Skincare Routine

        Hello! This week on the blog we are talking about our favorite facial skincare routines and why you should have one. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always have the best skincare routine, especially when my daily flow is interrupted. When that is the case, I usually get off my routine and have to pick it back up again. I’m inconsistent but I’m trying to be better as I get older.

        I have susceptible skin, and it changes throughout the year, so it is trial and error when it comes to my skin to find products my skin will tolerate. Over the years I have tried many different companies, searching for the best skincare products using beauty subscription boxes such as Birchbox™ and BoxyCharm™. After years of searching, I have finally decided that Clinique™ has some of the best products out there. 

        Clinique™ was actually the brand that I started my skincare journey with years ago. If anything, I like consistency and my mother and my grandmother were avid users of Clinique™. When I was a freshman in high school, my mom took me to the Clinique™ counter and she showed me the different products they had to offer and how to use them. Since then, I have always been faithful to their makeup and their blemish control system, AcneSolutions™. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I felt like I needed to amp up my skincare routines.

        The one thing I try to stay consistent about daily is my moisturizer. I have Rosacea, which is a facial skin condition causing redness. One of the best moisturizers that I have found to help with my rosacea is called Redness Solutions Daily Relief Cream™ by Clinique™. I can tell a visible difference whenever I use the product consistently or switch between products (which often causes a breakout). I use my moisturizer twice a day after washing my face with a mild facial cleanser. One thing I like about this product is that it leaves my face feeling soft, unlike other moisturizers that I have used, which leave my face feeling dry.

        Aside from an overall moisturizer, I also use an eye cream for the dark circles under my eyes. My favorite eye cream is also by Clinique™ from their All About Eyes™ eye cream line. Their eye products are the only products that I’ve tried that visibly reduce my eye puffiness in the morning, especially if I consistently use them every day.

        My routine isn’t extensive but it helps keep my rosacea and eye puffiness at bay. My key to success is consistency. After years of trying, I found products and routines that work for my skin. The best advice I can give to those looking to try out new skincare routines is to try a beauty subscription box like the ones I mentioned above and see what products work for you.

        I want to hear from our readers. What are your favorite skincare routines? Do you struggle with keeping routines? Let’s continue the conversation below.

        Wednesday, November 16, 2022

        Heard it on the Podcast - November 16, 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:

        S2E47: Who Are Your Spirit Guides

        Monday, November 14, 2022

        Can a Non-Catholic Have a Patron Saint?


        Have you ever felt like an angel was looking over your shoulder? Did you ever get a sudden flash of inspiration when you most needed it? Have you ever prayed or concentrated hard on something and it came to pass? Did you ever feel like everything was hopeless, but suddenly you saw a way out of your predicament? Maybe it was your spirit guide.

        This week on the podcast, we are talking about spirit guides…who they are, and how they help us. I don’t want to give everything away, but let’s just say that they are sometimes more or different than what you think. As I share in the podcast, even though I am not Catholic, I have a special connection to Saint Jude the apostle. Also known as Thaddeus and Lebbaeus, but not to be confused with Judas Iscariot (Jesus’s betrayer), St. Jude was one of the original 12 disciples and is associated with hopeless causes – the patron saint of the impossible.

        I came to believe in Saint Jude many years ago while facing a legal battle that would have devastated me financially. I was wrongfully sued, but I was up against a company owned by lawyers, and I had no evidence to support my position. My bank accounts had been frozen, I couldn’t pay my bills, and my husband probably would have divorced me if I had lost. It was that bad. I cried out for help on my Facebook page, and someone (oh, how I wish I could remember who it was) suggested I pray a novena to St. Jude. I found the prayer online, and I started praying. 

        On the day of my court appearance, a very good friend helped me smudge my house while we repeated a spiritual warfare prayer, and once I got to the courthouse, I was sequestered in an antechamber to await my turn. I was left alone, so I just started praying. Every prayer I knew, but especially the Saint Jude prayer. After a while, my attorney popped in to tell me I could go home – the previous case on the docket was taking longer than normal to resolve and he didn’t think I needed to wait around. The judge was going to hear my case during a break in the other trial, but he only wanted to hear from the lawyers at this point. So I went home. I was frustrated, dejected, and fearful. I wanted this to be over, but I was afraid of the outcome. I kept praying for the rest of the day.

        As it so happens, my case did eventually come up before the judge in one of those breaks, and my attorney submitted my rebuttal against this shady pack of lawyers. He had a tough case…he had to prove that I was never served papers to appear in court more than two years prior (which I wasn’t) and that the lawyers had seized my assets without due process.

        Do you know how hard it is to prove you never got served? It’s nearly impossible – especially when the process server signs an affidavit saying she did. But I was fortunate, or Saint Jude was listening, because the judge believed my attorney and dismissed the case, ordering the pack of ruthless liars…I mean, lawyers…to release my assets. But the worry wasn’t over yet. We may have won this leg of the battle by releasing the lien on my home and the levy on my bank accounts, but I still had to prove that I didn’t owe them enough money to buy a brand-new sports car. 

        This too, was a bit of a hopeless case, because I had to prove the impossible yet again…this time that I never had a credit card with a particular company, and I did not owe them any money. My previous attorney handed my case off to another lawyer who was more experienced in this sort of thing, and he promised to do his best but offered little hope that it would go my way. How do you prove that something doesn’t exist? The attorney said our best chance was that the company would be willing to settle for a smaller amount of money…even though it was not my debt! And somehow, amidst a litany of prayers to Saint Jude, I won the case! The entire thing was dismissed!

        By this time, I was convinced that Saint Jude was looking out for me. A friend made me a necklace and I wore it often. When I wasn’t wearing it, it hung over my desk in a protective position or from the rear-view mirror of my car when I traveled long distances. I bought St. Jude candles at the Mexican market down the street. I made donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. And I told everyone who needed help to pray to St. Jude. 

        That was seven years ago, and I’ve been a believer in Saint Jude ever since. These days I have statuettes, candles, and images of my favorite saint throughout my house, and I invoke him regularly for things both big and small. Saint Jude has helped me find things that are impossible to find, locate items I have lost, and most recently gave my family a miraculous hope in a possible cure/remission of my husband’s stage 4 lung cancer. I will never doubt that St. Jude watches over me when I ask for his help, and I have promised to bear witness to his gifts for the rest of my life.

        Of course, not everyone has such a profound experience with their spirit guides. It could be anything from a gentle nudge in the right direction when you’re trying to make an important decision, a sign that you can’t ignore, that little niggle when you’re taking a test that helps you guess the right answer when you aren’t sure, or a smack-down wake-up call to turn your life around. Whatever it is, I hope you embrace it. Call on your spirit guide for help. Stay open to the messages they are trying to send you. And most importantly, celebrate and be grateful when they answer.

        Do you have a spirit guide? Who do you turn to spiritually when you are in need? In what ways have they helped you or answered your call? We’d love to hear about it! Please share your story in the comments below, or join us over on our Facebook Group, MMC Chat.

        Thursday, November 10, 2022

        Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Expectations


        Yesterday on the podcast, you heard Christen introduce the idea of the 70% Method (or Rule) to help combat perfectionism and become more productive. Like Christen, I am a procrastinator. I can find all kinds of things to do to avoid starting or working on a project, and for many different reasons, including perfectionism. In fact, I’m writing this blog post at 12:42 A.M. and it is technically supposed to post at 9:00 A.M. That means I’m going to have to hope Amber can proofread it first thing in the morning, and I might get it posted sometime around noon. Oops….

        This is not a new behavior for me. I may have mentioned my bookkeeping and taxes a time or two on the podcast; they’ve become a long-standing thorn in my side because I can never seem to get them caught up. As the tax deadline looms, panic mode sets in and I scramble as hard as I can to crunch all those numbers and get them handed over to my accountant for the tax prep part of it. Then, as soon as I get the previous year’s reports turned in, I slump into a “much-needed reprieve” from the stress – in other words, I drop it like it’s hot and move on to the next thing until tax crunch time rolls around again the next year. As time goes on, my dilly-dallying pushes me closer and closer to the deadline until…oops! Yep, I got my files turned in too late to make the extension deadline. Now what?

        When Christen shared the info about the 70% Rule, she was talking about the problem of perfectionism getting in the way of starting on (or finishing) a project. It’s a valid point. As an artist and writer, I am as guilty as they come, and I often feel like I have nothing at all to say, create, or write, unless it is the perfect thing to say, create, or write. But what’s the deal with my taxes? I certainly don’t have any aspirations of perfection when I’m tallying up how much money I spent on office supplies and postage – it is what it is. So, why can’t I seem to get motivated to work on that bookkeeping throughout the year and keep that stress down to a minimum?

        The answer is pain avoidance, another common reason for procrastination. Yep, those taxes are not what I want to be doing. I’d rather be doing just about anything else in this whole world than sitting down with my calculator and a whole stack of computer reports and bank statements. I look over at that ginormous box of receipts, and my monkey brain says, “Time for a snack!” Then, 10 minutes later, it suddenly remembers that I need to add mustard to the grocery list. Oh, and don’t forget to start a load of laundry! It doesn’t help that I have ADHD and have a hard time focusing on unpleasant tasks anyway. So, while the 70% rule is great for combatting perfectionism, it doesn’t solve my problem. Besides, I don’t think I want my taxes to be only 70%, no matter how quickly I complete them – the I.R.S. might frown on that.

        Procrastinators, especially those of us who practice pain avoidance, are masters at coming up with reasons to evade the things they would rather not do. “I need to set up this cruise workbook…”, “the laundry needs to be folded,” and “Mercury’s in retrograde,” have all been an excuse at some time or another. Okay, maybe not “Mercury in retrograde,” but you get my point. My excuses always have something to do with time, and I’ve often claimed that I just have too much to do and not enough time to do it. That part is probably true, but it’s my own fault. I could set aside some things to focus on those taxes. Yes, the laundry will pile up, but I can still see all of that cruise group’s data on the printouts in a folder instead of a ring binder. The point is, the world won’t come to an end if I let those things slide and just get focused on the taxes for a time so that I can get them done. I just have a hard time letting go of how I think things should be. My expectation is that the laundry will be folded and put away on Monday after I wash it, and I feel like I should set up that cruise binder just as soon as I book the group so that it can serve as a handy reference tool while I add new reservations and other documents to it.

        This idea of expectations came to me from Christen a few weeks ago. We were working on our One Little Word projects for October and we interviewed each other (along with another friend) on how we were progressing with our words this year. At one point, I asked the question, “What is the one thing I could let go of in my life that would make the biggest positive difference?” I was expecting answers like, “over-scheduling yourself”, “taking care of everyone else”, or “doing all the housework”, but the first answer I got was, “Let go of your expectations.” (Boy, do I wish she’d said, “Let go of doing all the housework!”) It took me by surprise, but it only took me a minute to realize she was right. I have this expectation that my day…my schedule…my life is going to be a certain way. That I will wash the laundry on Monday, and Tuesday I will run errands. I often schedule so much into my day because I feel it is expected of me to stay on top of all these things. In reality, I am so overscheduled that there is no way I could complete it all, and on top of that, it leaves no room for me to edit my plan or to work on something that is not part of that routine. The taxes and reporting part of my business happen only at certain times, so they defy my expectations of how my schedule will work. To further complicate things, I just heap on even more expectations by thinking I should be getting all these things done on my task list, but what happens is that the list is so daunting, I don’t even know where to start. My expectations are so unreasonable that I actually give up before I even begin.

        Just this morning, I spoke with my therapist about the interview project and how I agreed or disagreed with some of the answers I got. And while I did agree with Christen on the issue of expectations to some extent, I did not agree with the assessment of my other friend who was part of the interview (more on that in a future blog post). It left me feeling like there was something they missed. Surely there is something I could let go of that would make my life easier. But what could I let go of that would make the biggest difference for me? As we talked it over, the only thing that came to my mind was the stress of being the responsible party for my mother, who (as I’ve mentioned before) has dementia. She currently lives in a memory care facility, but it is very expensive, and her money is dwindling fast. I’m now faced with the daunting task of moving her again, and it’s a task that I’ve put off for far too long (there’s that pain avoidance again). 

        What my counselor helped me to see was that even though I can’t let go of the responsibility of moving my mother, I can break it down into smaller, more palatable chunks and then focus on it wholeheartedly until I get that chunk done. The key here is focusing on that one thing that is most important right now (remember the Eisenhower Matrix?) – what is the most urgent and important? In a way, it’s a lot like ripping off the bandaid; it only hurts for a minute and then it’s done. It also helps to keep the “why” at the forefront. Why is this task so important? 

        This also plays into another percentage rule – the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. By using effective time management to prioritize and work on only the most vital few things, I can be more productive and it will have the biggest consequences in my life. If I can just spend 20% of my time working on those big things I’ve been avoiding, it will make a huge difference in my productivity because the most important things will be done. On top of that, I won’t have spent so much time making myself miserable by thinking about (and beating myself up over) all the things I’ve been procrastinating. That means less stress, and I like the sound of that! 

        So tonight, I sat down to write this blog, having nothing to say (or so I thought), but I just started typing, and here we are at the end. Obviously, I did have something to say after all, and I’m glad I managed to prioritize this task and make myself do it. By shutting down that perfectionist in me and allowing myself to present an idea that was just 70% good, I managed to knock out two and a half pages about procrastinating, perfectionism, and expectations, and it’s only 2:48 A.M. And that, my friends, means it’s time for bed!

        If you enjoyed this post, or you have more to add, please feel free to comment below or start up a conversation on our Modern Musings Facebook group: MMC Chat

        Wednesday, November 9, 2022

        Heard it on the Podcast - November 9, 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:

        S2E46: The 70% Rule

        *We're sorry, we were unable to find a link for the video demonstrating the 70% method using pottery as an example. If we find it, we will link it here. If you find it, please let us know!

          Monday, November 7, 2022

          Just Do It - At Least 70% of It...

          Just Do It! Nike has the right idea, it’s not about being the Olympic athlete, but actually getting out there and just doing “it” (training) by going through the motions. Olympic athletes do not happen overnight. They become the professional athletes that they are by persistently getting out there and training day in and day out. The same can apply for anything in life: your career, your artistic hobby or craft, or even getting out there and making new friends. You don’t have to have all the supplies or fancy gear, and you don’t have to be perfect at it. You just have to apply yourself. And with time and practice, you will improve and get better. 

          And why am I talking about this? On the podcast this week we will be dissecting a video that I saw on YouTube about procrastinating and why we procrastinate. I came across the video because I searched “tips to stop procrastinating” and this came up. This has been a pivotal video in my personal development journey. You should check out the video (it is a quick watch), then tune in on Wednesday for the discussion. The video is Advice for Perfectionists & Procrastinators: The 70% Rule – not to be confused with the 70% rule for flipping houses! Cam, aka Struthless, talks about how our high expectations for perfectionism are the cause of procrastination, as we are avoiding producing something less than perfect. He encourages you to go through the motions and just do the activity to see your results improve over time. 

          I highly encourage you to check this video out as it has really changed my perspective on how I apply myself and what I expect out of myself. Of course, ridding myself of procrastination and perfectionism did not happen overnight. It took time, a new shift in mindset, and lots of positive self-talk. It is (and I am) a work in progress. 

          I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think!

          Saturday, November 5, 2022



          Ugh…it’s Monday morning, and I have a whole list of things to do this week. There’s no way I will ever get them done; I know this already, but I have them listed out on my planner, nonetheless. Call nursing homes for Mom, check on that missing commission from June, run a financial report for my travel business, follow up with two group cruises, and write up a quote for four new leads. There are dozens of other to-dos on the list, but I can’t think about that right now. I need to get through my morning routine. I haven’t even had my coffee yet, and I feel overwhelmed.

          Rolling out of bed, I take my blood sugar (I’m diabetic), and then I head to the restroom and the digital scale.  I hate weighing myself because it’s just a number, but it’s also an ever-present symbol of how body-conscious our society has become. My Noom app insists that I must do it, though, so I play along and weigh myself. Then it’s off to the kitchen for my medicine, breakfast, and that morning necessity…coffee.

          As I pass through the living room, I notice the two laundry baskets in front of the couch. I sigh as I realize I don’t have time to fold them today – there’s simply too much on my plate. I would love to take an hour or two of sitting on the couch, folding laundry, and binge-watching one of my favorite TV shows, but I can’t. I give the laundry one last, longing look, wave my hand at it, and watch as the socks begin to pair up and the towels fold themselves into neat little stacks. I wish I could just do things by hand myself; I wonder how life without magic would be. Would I feel less rushed? Would I have more time to do the things I love to do?

          In the kitchen, I pour myself a cup of coffee. Mark made it hours ago, so it’s already getting cold, but I can warm it up in the microwave. I set it for 1:15…the exact amount of time to heat it. I could just start another pot, but somehow, Mark’s coffee always tastes better than mine, and that extra step would just add one more task to my already over-scheduled day. I’m still thinking about all the things I need to do, but I shake my head to clear the unwanted thoughts. This is not the time to review the day. This is my morning routine, and I need to stay in the present. 

          I dispense my morning pills onto a napkin and neatly fold it so they don’t fall out. I’m trying to decide what I want for breakfast, but I’m not really hungry. It’s a conundrum I face every morning. My medication has to be taken with food, or it will make me sick, but the mere thought of food makes me nauseous.  I settle on an Oh Yeah One Bar, gather my coffee and pills, and head to my studio to tackle the last segment of my morning routine – my tarot cards and journaling.

          As I shuffle my tarot deck, I think about what I want the cards to tell me today. What do I need to know? What do I need to think about? What do I need to do? When I’ve shuffled sufficiently, I stack the cards in a neat pile and cut them. I don’t think too hard about where to cut them. I’m not going for the middle; I just pick up a section of the cards where it feels like they should part. The division happens naturally. As I lift a handful of cards, some fall back to the stack. When I have a solid block of cards in my hand, I flip them over to reveal my card of the day. The card the deck chose for me today is the Eight of Swords, representing self-imposed barriers and being trapped or restricted, perhaps by my own convictions. I sigh as I put away my cards. 

          I spend the rest of my morning on emails and phone calls, mostly to clients and potential clients. There’s always so much work to be done contacting and following up with leads. It’s my least favorite part of the job. I just hate the tedious work of trying to get people to answer a question or make a decision. Sometimes, it’s like pulling teeth, as my grandmother used to say. The clients will call and say they are ready to book their next great vacation, so I hustle and bustle to get a good quote sent out in a timely manner, and then it’s crickets…no answer…for days, sometimes weeks. I’ll follow up a few times, and sometimes the client will apologize for not getting back to me and they’ll promise to look it over as soon as possible. Sometimes, they say they already booked with someone else, which always irritates me because it’s rude to be working with two agents at the same time. I’ve often busted my butt trying to jump through hoops to get them what they wanted. The least they could do was let me know they had someone else working on it, too. Sometimes, though, they don’t bother to answer back at all. Once in a great while, a client will answer back and be ready to book, or maybe they’ll have a change or a question. Now that’s something I can work with!

          When lunchtime rolls around, I am still at my desk, but now I’m setting up some social media posts and emails to see if I can drum up a few more leads. I think longingly about popping out to grab a bite at the Taco Bueno down the street, or maybe a salad from Chick-fil-A, but no, I need to finish this cruise promotion for my mailing list, and then I need to fix a few broken links on my website. Why magic doesn’t work on this stuff, I will never understand, but it must be done, and I’m the only one to do it. I turn to face the kitchen, heave a big sigh, and wave my hand indifferently, turning back to my work. Within minutes, a pastrami sandwich appears at my desk along with a pile of Fritos. I pause to take a bite of the sandwich. It tastes good, but I would have enjoyed it so much more if I could have taken the time to sit at the table, or even out on the porch. 

          I finish the website edits quickly, and the sandwich, too. Now it’s time to track down those missing commissions that never got paid. While I’m on the phone, I casually wave my hand at the stack of paperwork that has piled up on my desk. It sorts itself by priority and settles into a neat stack to one side. I leave yet another message for the nursing home ombudsman. No one ever returns calls anymore. I wonder how I’m ever going to get anywhere finding a new nursing home for Mom. Her money is about to run out, and the private pay facility she’s at won’t take Medicaid. Why can’t magic fix that?

          As I hang up the phone, I realize the grocery order has arrived. With another flick of my wrist, the groceries sort themselves into the pantry and fridge. The refrigerator is a bit crowded, so I take a moment to concentrate on it before leisurely waving my arm in that direction. A few leftovers turn out into the trash can and the empty dishes find their way to the sink. Satisfied that all is well, I turn back to my computer and start to work on data entry for my two cruise groups. I also run a quick financial report, use magic to enter the weekend’s receipts into my Quicken register, and sit down to a one-hour Zoom webinar from one of my suppliers. By the time I’m done, it’s almost time for dinner.

          Mark has whipped up some delicious Thai food. He looks tired even though the dinner preparation probably only took him a few minutes from the first wave of his hand. I guess he’s had a busy day, too. We eat and talk about our day. He has a music edit to do for one of his clients tonight. I’ll be working on the Modern Musings blog and podcast. I might even get a little quilting or scrapbooking in. The dishes wash themselves and he takes our dog, Sophie, for a walk while I wipe the cabinets with another flick of my wrist.

          I motion to my computer to start editing our next podcast while I write my blog. Occasionally, I pause to listen in, but it’s very self-sufficient once I get it going. I’d like to be able to listen in…I’m sure there are lots of laughs and silly bloopers that get edited out, but that would take hours, and I still must write this week’s blog, edit Amber and Christen’s offerings, as well as upload all the links. Luckily the links blog post writes itself based on the podcast edits. All I have to do is post it.

          By the time the podcast is edited, I’m done writing the blog, but I still have to proofread Amber’s blog. Christen’s can wait a day or two since it won’t post until Saturday. I was hoping to do some quilting or scrapbooking, but I’m running out of time. I need to finish that t-shirt quilt I started for Christen. I decide to let the sewing machine do it for me, so I can finish the proofreading and go to bed. Maybe just a few blocks. Maybe I can do some myself tomorrow. I close my eyes, frown, and flick a finger toward the sewing machine. It hums to life as a stack of t-shirt blocks feed themselves through in a neat column. I return to the computer to proofread Amber’s blog. It’s short but very good, and I work through it quickly. Sending her a quick note to let her know it’s done, I flick another lazy finger towards the sewing machine, and it finishes the row of quilt blocks, stacking them on top of the others in the basket nearby.

          It’s finally time for bed, and I make myself a little snack to take with my pills before I turn in. Reclining in my reading chair, I think about my day. I feel like all I did was work, and for all that magic did for me, it didn’t really save me any time or give me more free time to do the things I wanted to do. I feel like I’m working harder than I ever did before, and I wonder…if I stopped using magic, what would happen? Wouldn’t my life be so much better? I’m still trying to imagine that as I head to bed and fall asleep. Yes, better, I think. I could daydream while I sort laundry, laugh along with the podcasts while I edit them, and watch a movie while I sort and file papers. That would be wonderful. Maybe someday there will be no more magic. Someday….

          Thursday, November 3, 2022

          Fire Fairies - National Novel Writing Month

          This week on the Podcast and blog we are celebrating National Novel Writing Month and exploring Amber's writing challenge. She challenged everyone to write a personal narrative with magical realism. I have read a only a bit of magical realism, specifically The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (1982). Most of my reading enjoyment is high fantasy and science fiction romance. I prefer fantasy genre more than magical realism. I wiring for the challenge I discovered that it was a bit more challenging for me to keep realism as my main setting. However, I did not have the burden of "world creating" so I could keep my narrative brief. I hope that our readers enjoy participating in the challenge. I look forward to Amber and Cindy's response to the challenge as well as any one else who wishes to participate. If you feel so inclined, please reach out by email to: info@modernmusings.net

          Fire Fairies

          Here we are. After an hour or so of driving, we had made it to our camping destination. The drive out to the campsite wasn’t so bad; we hit a little bit of traffic on our way out of town, but for the most part, the drive was uneventful. When we checked in, the ranger pointed to some free firewood that was available. That was lucky, we wouldn't have to scavenge for our own wood. Things were looking up.

          I really need this break from work to get out and disconnect. Work has been tense even up to the moment we left. I have been working extra hours of overtime and even a few hours off the clock to get things done. It didn’t help my situation that I was disheveled and unorganized all the time at work, but who can I blame but myself, my inner thoughts say. It really isn’t all my fault…really. Those pesky meddling fairies always turn up when things get intense at work. My boss tells me that they only show up because I let them, but I think he is just repeating some platitude that he is required to say to keep me motivated. I can’t blame him. 

          Argh. Even now, I am thinking about them. I squeeze my eyes shut tight and clench my fists. I just hope they don’t show up and try to mess up my camping trip. I just need some peace and quiet for once…and to not be disturbed. I mean, I know they are going to be there, they are everywhere, but hopefully the ones at the campsite are nice. I snort at the absurdity and step out of my car to greet my mom who pulled up in the truck behind me. The stress of fairies invading my relaxing weekend quickly dissipates. 

          We have a full crew this weekend. My husband, Travis, and my daughter, Reyna, exit our vehicle and greet the additional campers in our caravan. My mom ,Cindy, dad, Mark, cousin Ashley, and my younger brother, Steven, hop out of the car to greet us. I’m so glad they could make it. Getting the whole family together has been hard to do now that Ashley, Steven and I are grown up. 

          My mom looks and sounds as eager to get this campout started as I am. “Christen, why don’t you and I unload the cars? Steven and Travis can go back to the lodge and get some of that fire wood for our campfire, and Mark, Reyna, and Ashley can get our folding chairs set up and the fire-ring set up.” 

          As we head over to the truck to unload our gear, I can’t help but let my thoughts drift to a memory of our last campout. “Remember last time we went camping and we captured the fire fairies in our photos? I remember seeing them both times when we went camping – with our friend Susan, and then again when we were camping on the Brazos River,” I said to my mom as we unloaded our cars.. 

          “Yeah, wasn’t that so awesome to capture them on film both times hovering over our fire? Their green shimmer twinkled so vibrantly over the flames. Who would have thought that they were green, my favorite color?” 

          “I know right! It was as if they were using their powers to keep our fire lit for us.” 

          We both know that is not the case though because fairies are mischievous and usually try to make a mess out of people’s days. Only some of us have it worse than others, it would seem. 

          "Remember that time they stole your notepad you were working on?"

          Cindy rolled her eyes, "Which time? Yesterday, the day before that, or the time before that?" 

          We both chuckle at the truth in her statement as we part ways to dump our gear and find a good flat surface for our tents. It seems that the house fairies are always misplacing Cindy’s things right out from under her nose, and always when she needs things the most. 

          You can never catch them, though. Not even out of the corner of your eye. They cannot be seen with the naked eye. We were fortunate to capture some on film. Many have claimed to see them but very little proof exists, a jingle of a Christmas ornament on the tree…in the steam coming from your plate of food…when you hear a pan clanking in the cabinet, but no one else is home…. That's the fairies causing mischief – a burden in anyone's life. They are a blight on our planet. An infestation. And an invasion of  my thoughts again. I try not to get frustrated focusing on the campout ahead of me and the great time we will have. 

          “Tonight we are having hotdogs and S’mores.  Who is ready to get the campfire going?” Mark announces. Everyone files in around the campfire circle and takes a seat. Travis and Steven start loading up the fire ring with some of the free wood they gathered from the lodge. I take a look at my family around me as I lean back in my folding camp chair and sigh with relief. I think to myself that this is going to be a great weekend.  

          To be Continued…

          Wednesday, November 2, 2022

          Heard it on the Podcast - November 2, 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:

          S2E45: National Novel Writing Month

          Interested in joining our story-writing challenge? 

          Here's the rules:

          • Write a short story in the Magical Realism genre where you tell the story of an ordinary day in your life and add a magical element. (Oh heck, we'll take any genre...just write!).
          • The story must be at least one page long.
          • Upload your story (or write it in) Google Docs
          • Set the "Sharing" for "Anyone with the link".
          • Copy the link and share it to our MMC Chat Facebook Group by November 30, 2022.
          That's all there is to it! Pretty simple, right? So we hope you'll join the challenge and share your short story with us!

          *Correction: The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien was first published in 1954

          Tuesday, November 1, 2022

          Tell Your Story

          November starts the real preparations for December Daily. I’m not going to tell you about that project yet again, but there are some good takeaways from projects like that. Since it is also National Novel Writing Month, I want to use the novel-writing theme to talk about documenting family stories, but instead of doing paper crafting, I want to focus on writing stories and using digital aids to create books you and your loved ones will treasure for many years to come. 

          I will mention several of these in the podcast tomorrow, but I wanted to share a little bit more about them here. I think I’ve mentioned Becky Higgin’s My Modern Story multiple times in the last year of podcasts. This is a wonderfully helpful method for documenting family histories and personal stories of all kinds. She created this project as a heartfelt attempt to help others, especially non-scrapbookers, find ways to quickly and efficiently preserve those important memories before they are gone. The workshop is free and can be completed quickly in one evening or an afternoon. It utilizes her Project Life app and allows you to add stories or text of any kind, really, along with photos. It’s so simple and she has great ideas for where to find those stories, like taking posts directly from social media, etc. I’ve used this app multiple times to document family stories, and I plan to eventually convert the stories I’ve created there into a family history book – the pages can be used to create stunning, hard-bound books either by downloading the pages directly or by ordering through the app. There are, of course, some in-app purchases, which are optional, and you can make your storytelling as simple or as complex as you like.

          Along those lines, for those of you who like the look of traditional scrapbook pages, but don’t have the patience, money, or time, there are lots of options for creating fun, colorful, and artistic pages digitally. Many of the major scrapbooking design companies now offer digital versions of their products, which you can use with Photoshop and other applications to create beautiful scrapbooks right on your phone or computer. In fact, the aforementioned Project Life app can recreate the look of traditional or pocket-based scrapbook pages by using digital papers and other elements right in the app (in-app purchases available). Once you’ve created your pages, you can download them to print at home, order prints from the app, or convert them into a bound book as described above.

          And speaking of bound books, don’t forget that online photo retailers like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Persnickety Prints, and Amazon Photos also create lovely bound books to preserve your family memories. You simply create your pages at home on your phone or computer, upload them to the print retailer of your choice, arrange the pages as you like, and order…simple as that. Most of them also offer an in-app method for designing your pages, where all you do is drag and drop your photos and text. This is a fantastic way to document those family stories, with or without photos and/or text. What’s even better is that you can order multiple copies of a book to give to other family members. Remember Christmas? It’s less than two months away….

          One last word about documenting stories…and yes, it does involve December Daily. December Daily Prep Day is coming up on Saturday, November 12. This is a day that many participants look forward to as we spend our day online with the DD community getting our supplies ready and pre-making pages so we are ready to document when December 1 rolls around. There are often tips for organizing, beautiful page ideas, lessons of all kinds, and, of course, a lot of camaraderie as we all start to get excited about not just December Daily, but the holiday season as a whole. You can find out more about DD Prep Day in the links below.

          Whether you scrapbook or not, celebrate Christmas or other holidays, or just spend the fall and winter months hibernating in your hidey-hole, this is a great time to start thinking about the stories and the legacy you want to leave behind. Do you have cool stories about your ancestors? Do you have more recent memories that you don’t want to forget? Or do you have a trauma that needs to be brought forward into the light of day so you can heal and move on? Documenting your stories is a great way to do it, and the options for how you get started are truly endless. If you need more help, or encouragement, or have questions, please feel free to email me or comment below…I’d love to help you get started telling your stories.

          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 ...