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

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Journaling to Clear Your Mind and Uplift Your Spirit


This week on the podcast, we talked about self-care and how it can mean a million different things. Amber asked Christen and I what we do for self-care, and I mentioned that I like to journal. Journaling has always been an important way for me to deal with stress and past trauma. By allowing myself to express any intense emotions, I am able to clear my head, get things off my chest, see situations more clearly, and, often, realize that things are quite as bad as they seem. I love to write, so telling the stories that make me who I am is important to me. Journaling is easy to do; anyone can do it. All you need is a pen and some paper. Or a computer if you’d rather type.

Another form of journaling I do is art journaling. I’ve mentioned before that I have participated in a 365 project that was essentially creating art inside the pages of a published book. It was meant to be a year-long project that had me completing one page every day, but it came to a screeching halt about halfway through, and I’ve been adding to it sporadically ever since. I’ve posted all the pages I’ve done to date on my Flickr account if you’re curious.

In 2022, I started keeping an affirmation journal. It all started when Amber gifted me with a set of Mindful Messages cards, which I’ve also mentioned previously. The messages inspired me to keep a journal of affirmations, which I illustrated by using some of my extensive collection of rubber stamps (and a few hand-drawn images). It was a great way to encourage me to be creative and to use some of the stamps that had never been used before. After I exhausted the Mindful Messages cards several times over, I started looking for affirmations from other sources. I have loved creating positive messages for myself, and I think this little book will be a great asset when I need a little reminder that I am enough.

This year, I plan to complete the affirmation journal since there are still about 20 pages left in the book, but I probably won’t work on it daily. Instead, I think I might just go back to my regular journaling where I decompress my day and dig into some things from my past. I think it will help me let go of some burdens and baggage that have been weighing me down. It’s time to lighten my load.

What about you? Do you do any creative or journaling projects as part of your self-care routine? I’d love to hear about it. Comment below, or join us on the MMC Chat page!

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Taking a Deeper Dive into Self-care

This week we are talking about all things self-care on the blog and podcast. This is a subject that I could just talk and talk or (write and write) on and on about. I hope you got to listen to the podcast on Wednesday; I think that it is one that anyone could benefit from. Many people think of self-care as pampering yourself with manicures, facials and beautification. It can be those things, if that is what you need, but it can be so much more if you are willing to take the deep dive inwards.  

One of my favorite categories of self-care is personal development or self improvement. When I think of personal development, I think of setting goals, educating myself, and holding myself up to a certain standard or personal expectation. In the practice of selecting a word of the year, I give myself a goal to develop myself within the construct of the multiple definitions of that word. My objective for my word is for it to elevate my life in those areas. 

In keeping with the idea that the word is intended as a self-care tool, I recommend choosing a word that is unstinting. Any practice of self-development that does not uplift you is not good self-care. Pay attention to the programs, videos, tips and advice floating around out there on the internet. If it is not designed to nurture you, it could be harmful to your self worth. You may be choosing a program that encourages you to look inward with feelings of self doubt, shame, or feelings of failure to accomplish.

The past few years, I have picked words with my One Little Word project that encouraged me to change my behavior, reprogram some of my less favorable habits, and work hard to improve myself. This year, however, I wanted to choose a word that allowed me to pamper myself, rather than challenge my boundaries. I found that last year and the years before, I was inadvertently using my word to beat myself up about something that I was not. For example, I chose the word change in 2018. That year, I did encounter many changes in my life. Ultimately, I was disappointed when I came out at the end of the year as the same person, and I shouldn't have felt that way. Another fellow One Little Word participant mentioned that these types of words are abusive words, and I can agree! If someone else was telling me to be this word change, I would not appreciate their advice and I would be hurt that they would insist on me changing who I was. If they encouraged me to adapt, evolve, flex, modify or adjust, I might take their advice with a little hopefulness, instead of begrudging them.

With that being said, and all my resentment over my word Rise in 2022, I came to a quick and easy determination – I wanted a fun word this year! For 2023, I specifically chose a word that I believe encourages me to go easier on myself. I selected Enjoy this year as it has many facets, and I can incorporate it within many focal areas of my life: home, work, family, friends, and physical health, to name a few. I would like to think that Enjoy is an easy-going, fun word, but there is also room within the word to work on my mindset.

I am sure that you all are familiar with our segments on the podcast in which we reviewed Eckart Tolle’s “A New Earth”. One of the major takeaways for me was living in the now, and not letting my inner voice be overly concerned with what I could be doing instead of what I was actually doing. For example, sometimes I will be at work, knee deep in a special project and my mind will wander off into something else that I have going on at home. I work from home, so this can be a major distraction for me. I find my mind pulling towards anything and everything that is not the task at hand. I understand now that it is my ego deflecting and me not being fully present and accepting what I am working on. My mind is trying to focus on something else because I am not happy doing the task at hand. I know that not every single second of my day at work, for example, is going to be amazing and fun. That is just the reality of the job, however I can do what I am doing to my best ability and focus on what I do enjoy about the task. One of my least favorite things to do is review calls for my employees. I listen to the recorded call and then provide detailed feedback regarding their call. The act of listening to the call is tedious and sometimes boring. What I do enjoy about my job though, is helping people. I remind myself that by reviewing the calls and providing feedback, I am helping people and doing something that I love. This is already helping me by reminding me that it is a labor of love, just as someone who loves to ride horses and care for them might not like shoveling poop in the stalls, but they do it anyway. 

I want to curate the things in my life that I enjoy, not just with work, but my leisure time as well. I have been working in excess for the past 5 months, and I am in desperate need to dial it back. I am looking forward to honing in on what I truly love, spending more time with myself and by myself. I am excited to spend more dedicated time on my hobbies. This much needed rest, rejuvenation and introspective time is fully in alignment with self-care. 

Have you picked out your word of the year? Have you ever considered if any of your goals or word of the year were abusive, unrealistic, or counterintuitive, leaving you feeling unaccomplished? If so, I encourage you to take a more gentler approach and give yourself some grace this year. We have gone through so much, and we all need a little pampering on the inside and outside every now and then.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Heard it on the Podcast - January 25, 2023


Did you miss a link we mentioned on the podcast? Here's a quick post we do most Wednesdays 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:

S3E4: Therapy and Self-Care Techniques

    Monday, January 23, 2023

    Self-care is the Best Care

    Hello everyone! This week on the podcast, we are talking about what we do for self-care and why self-care is important. What is self-care? According to the Global Self-Care Federation, self-care is defined as “the practice of individuals looking after their own health using the knowledge and information available to them. It is a decision-making process that empowers individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.” Simply, take care of yourself.

    Why is this such a problem for people? As I’ve learned in life, not taking care of yourself will simply kill you. That’s the bottom line. My mother was great at taking care of things. My dad, grandma, and I (and her pets) were her world. She didn’t eat until everyone else ate. She spent endless hours making sure my grandmother ate, took her pills, watched her favorite shows, and took a bath to the point that she sometimes forgot to do those things for herself. My mom didn’t eat the things she wanted to eat; she always let everyone else choose. My mom didn’t do the activities she wanted to do; she went along with what I wanted to do. Her family and friends were her world, and when she wasn’t spending time with us, she was at work for endless hours (until she was forced to medically retire). My mom ran ragged worrying about other people and oftentimes neglected her health. As a result, she suffered a series of strokes at the age of 59 and eventually died of heart failure just shy of her 64th birthday.

    I, too, was going down the same path as my mother. I had just turned 30 when my mother suffered her strokes, and I moved in with her and my grandmother to take care of them; it was like my life turned upside down. Before that, I lived alone and I had a routine. I woke up at a certain time every day, took my medication, ate at a certain time, followed a daily regime of skincare, and went to the gym regularly. I put all of my things in storage and started sleeping on my grandmother’s extremely uncomfortable couch when I wasn't sleeping in a chair at the hospital. Eventually, with the help of my cousins, I was able to move a bed into my grandmother’s sewing room, but this was after months of sleeping where and when I could, showering whenever I had the chance, and eating from the hospitality station next to my mom’s hospital room…which consisted mainly of yogurt and cheese sticks.

    After my mom eventually got well enough that she didn’t need someone attending her 24/7, I was able to start working again. However, in my new place, it was hard to get back into the strict routine that I had. Unfortunately, I had let myself go. I gained weight, I started breaking out, and I became too comfortable with a sedentary life. As the years passed, I slowly slipped into putting others’ needs above my own and eventually began to lose myself in the needs of others. 

    After my separation in 2020, I began to slowly pick up those routines again. I started a strict skincare routine of cleansing my face daily and applying shea butter lotion to the rough skin that had developed on my arms and legs. I started giving myself regular pedicures and manicures and wearing the right makeup that didn’t break me out. Other than that I started dressing for my body type and picking up old hobbies that I had lost over the years. Slowly, I began to feel satisfied with myself again. I started working my way out of the slump that I let myself fall into. Eventually, I started eating better as well. Is everything perfect? No. Do I need to go to the doctor more? Yes. Will I get back to the routine that I want in my life, taking years of time and effort? For sure. But, I have given myself a level ground to continue on because I can still be there for other people and maintain myself. That is the takeaway. You can be both. You do not have to be one or the other.

    I want to hear from our readers. How do you practice self-care? Do you have any self-care tips that you want to share? Please comment below!

    Thursday, January 19, 2023

    Knowing Where You Come From

    Where do I come from? I can give you the easy answer. I come from Vernon, Texas. That’s where I was raised. That’s where my mother and my grandparents and their parents were raised. My mom’s side of the family could even say that they are a founding family of the Vernon, Texas area, a blink-and-you-miss-it town off Highway 287 on the way to Colorado from Dallas. That’s where I come from. But, what is in my DNA? I had always heard that my family was Irish; more frequently, I was of Native American descent.

    My father was always interested in genealogy and instilled that interest in me at a young age. Before the internet was a massive thing, my dad and his cousins, Bob and Lavonna, kept a notebook with paper records of our family tree as far back as they could research. When Ancestry.com launched in 1996, it wasn’t long before my father had a membership. He worked off and on for years building our family tree.

    In the summer of 2015, I moved to Eagle Mountain, Utah, and lived there for eight months. While exploring Salt Lake City, I discovered the Family History Library. When I walked in, I was greeted warmly by the attendants and asked to be seated in the auditorium for the next presentation. The other patrons and I were shown a video on ancestry and the Family Library. Afterward, we were escorted to a large computer lab and assigned a computer. Attendants helped us make a FamilySearch account and assisted us in building our family tree.

    I wasn’t sure, at first, how to get started but an attendant sat with me and showed me how to search and get real results on FamilySearch. After hours of searching and building, I left the library with a partial family tree built. I returned to the library several times that summer to work on my family tree and talk with the attendants. My family history was fascinating to me. I knew a few names and origins, but I wanted to know more.

    A few years later, I received a free trial for Ancestry.com and began to transfer my family tree from FamilySearch to Ancestry as well. I also was able to discover my late father’s Ancestry account. More of my family members also made Ancestry accounts and we were able to compare family trees and connect. My cousin Lavonna and her husband Tommy sent in their Ancestry DNA kit a few years ago to discover Tommy’s birth family. Lavonna also discovered that we had a cousin named Mary, an unknown child of my uncle Kenneth’s. That discovery made me want to try Ancestry DNA.

    While doing research for the podcast, I finally purchased an Ancestry DNA kit, and my results were somewhat surprising. Although two of my great-grandmothers were reportedly full-blood Cherokee, my results did not show any Native American DNA. I was also under the assumption that I was mostly Irish, especially on my father’s side, but I am actually almost equal parts English, Northwestern European, and of Scottish descent. I am only 11% Irish. What surprised me the most was that I am 5% German.

    As I developed my family tree more, I discovered more things about my family:
    • My family only spent a generation in Northern Ireland and before that, we were in Scotland.
    • My family was not only Scottish, but they were Lowland Scottish Gypsies (or Romani).
    • My family has royal ties in Scandinavia.

    The more I look into my family, the more I hope to discover. In the meantime, I want to hear from our readers. Have you bought a DNA kit through Ancestry or a competing company? Did you get any interesting results? Let’s continue the conversation below!

    Finally Taking my DNA Test

     Hi, everyone. If you checked out Wednesday’s podcast, you might recall that I had been struggling with some of my family connections. I have some missing links for my family ancestry. I also have a DNA kit from 23andMe and I have yet to take the test!

    I thought I would go ahead and take the DNA test today and send off the results. I would also use that as a way to reconnect with some of my less familiar family members. I thought that would be a great way to start the conversation and ask if they know if anyone else in the family has taken the test. Then I could follow up with questions about people's dates of birth and legal names, especially my paternal grandfather. I also hope to find more about myself along the way once I get my DNA test back. 

    After way too much procrastination, I am ready to take my test!

    Here is a little unboxing so you can see what is in the box.

    Everything you need is packed in this little box.

    No eating or drinking 30 minutes prior; way easier than taking a Covid-19 test.

    I recommend that you get fully hydrated so you can easily spit into the tube. 
    Pack it back up in the box and toss it in a USPS mailbox to be picked up.

    Have you had any struggles connecting with your relatives? I would love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment below, or head on over to MMC chat, our Facebook group where you can join in on the conversation! 

    Wednesday, January 18, 2023

    Heard it on the Podcast - January 18, 2023


    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:

    S3E3: Ancestry and DNA: What Your Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Never Told You

    Saturday, January 14, 2023

    Epic Reads

    Yesterday on the podcast, Christen led off a discussion about some of our favorite fantasy fiction with a comparison of J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” vs. J. K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series. I love discussions like these because they often lead us into some very unexpected places, like comparisons of the strength of female characters and then into other fantasy realms altogether, like J. R. R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones.” And while we may not always be factually accurate, it’s fun to discover that we each favored different characters and took away different bits of insight and observation. Sometimes I feel like we could just keep talking for hours, and sometimes we have. Some episodes end and I just can’t wait to write up my blog post and share all the things I forgot to say. That day is not today.

    I’m not sure why, but I feel drained from comparing the two storylines. I love both. So instead, I thought I’d throw out a few other favorite fantasy books and series.  So, listed here in no particular order are my 10 favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Gothic Fiction series that are not the focus of one or more Modern Musings podcasts:

    And because I can’t leave the list without mentioning two of my favorite historical fiction writers:

    Of course, this is not a complete list of my favorite authors and books by any means…there are many, many fine books and series that I have loved – too many to name them all! And after pouring through this list, I see that some have a few new additions.  It might be time to revisit these series again!

    What about you? Do you have a favorite Sci-Fi or Fantasy series? Tell me about it! Is it one that I didn’t mention? Let me know because I might want to read it, too!

    Wednesday, January 11, 2023

    What do you think about The Rings of Power?

    Hey there! Thanks for stopping by today! This week we are hitting up a whimsical and nerdy topic, Lord of the Rings vs Harry Potter. We will discuss all aspects of the books and movies, or at least as many as we can imagine. We will dive into character development, world building, and the difference between the two fantasy genres! The conversation came up at a perfect time, as I have just finished watching the two cinematic trilogies based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novels  Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and then the new Amazon Prime series The Rings of Power

    Unfortunately, I have not connected with anyone else who has seen the series. I really want to share my opinion on some things without spoiling it – I really dislike spoilers of any kind!. I don’t even like reading synopses for books, shows and movies because oftentimes, I get stuck on what I read or what I thought I read, which leads to misconceptions. Therefore, taking that into consideration, and respecting any readers who do not want to be spoiled, I will be as obtuse as possible. 

    First of all, there are a lot of characters, similar to Game of Thrones, and the dramatization of each character unfolds in short turns as the plot goes along. The characters seem unrelated to each other at first, as they are scattered in different locations, each with their own side stories.  Some characters are developed further with back stories, allowing you to take a peek into their past. I am sure that they will all start to come together as the plot develops. The cast chosen for these characters are so diverse. They chose to be inclusive in the telling of the stories of Middle Earth this time, and chose people of all colors, age, and gender. Many of the main characters are females, and that is just really refreshing! 

    Unlike Game of Thrones, the story is clean with a TV-14 rating only due to violence. There are none of the ‘HBO-esq’ provocative scenes that many shows are known for having. There is a romantic plot that will hopefully blossom. That was one thing that I appreciated more in the series. I felt that in all three of the books, there was a greatly missed opportunity to build on the romance between Aragorn and Arwen. I understand that J. R. R. Tolkien is not a romance novelist, but I like a story with equal action, humor, drama and romantic plot

    Although I enjoyed The Rings of Power, it was a slow burn. I went into this almost blind. I had only read and seen the trilogies. I have not read any other works by J. R. R. Tolkien yet. I was unsure what the series would be about other than the rings, which were loosely explained in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of the trilogy written after The Hobbit. When watching the first episode, I was familiar with some of the characters by name, but unfamiliar with the specific time and setting. Although I am very confident in my knowledge of the contents in the map presented in the trilogy, I was having a hard time grasping where the characters were located on said map, and when they existed in relevance to the other tales of Middle Earth. Although it took a few episodes for me to latch on and stop trying to compare the series to the movies, I finally started to enjoy the storyline as the plot thickened. Then I was hooked, and each episode left me wanting more. The whole time, I was like “when are we getting to ‘the rings’ though?” So long as Amazon keeps renewing for another season, I am anticipating this being a long drawn out series, and I am 100% A-OK with that. 

    Have you seen The Rings of Power? What were your thoughts? I would love to know, but remember no spoilers please for our other readers (AKA Cindy and Amber), because they have not watched it yet.

    Saturday, January 7, 2023

    Happy New Year!


    Happy New Year, readers, listeners, friends, family, and anyone else who happens to stumble across this blog! I think I speak for all of us when I say, “I hope 2023 will be better than 2022, and that all the blessings, luck, fortune, and opportunities will come to all of us.” We need it.

    Last Sunday, I was reflecting on everything that had come to pass in 2022. I was wrapping up my One Little Word and PowerSheets projects in anticipation of starting a new One Little Word and goal-setting system for 2023. As I read through my workbooks, rereading all the journaling, reflections, poetry, and quotes I had written and collected, I kept running across little nuggets of wisdom and insight that showed me just how much I have changed and grown in the last 12 months, and I found so much I wanted to share, that I thought I would offer some of it here as a sort of recap of our year together.

    Those who’ve been reading and listening to Modern Musings all year probably know that it has been challenging for me. After caring for and losing a dear friend to cancer in January, I had thought the worst was behind us and I was on track to my best year ever. But then, in July, my husband, Mark, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and the tribulations continued to mount. Around the same time, Mark also lost his job of more than 20 years. All the while, I was still struggling to rebuild my little travel agency, and hoping to turn a part-time hobby for fun money into a full-time, bring home the bacon cash cow. And lest I forget, I need to mention my mother, who has Frontotemporal Dementia and who needs to move to a Medicaid skilled nursing home before she runs out of money.

    All this to say, “Whew! It’s been a lot!” And I have been quite remiss in sharing with you any sort of progress with my goals or my One Little Word since we first introduced the concept on our podcast in late 2021. Amber, Christen, and I chose words for 2022 that reflected the goals we wanted to achieve in the coming year. We talked about “why”, and even mentioned a number of ways “how” we develop our words, but we never came back to share progress or results. For that reason, I have created this flip-through video to share my personal journey with my word, “now”, which was inspired by my reading of Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.”

    I know you can’t see all the detail in the journal, but I hope this video will help you see the merits of doing your own One Little Word project, whether it’s through Ali Edward’s workshop or even just working on your own. I do feel like it has been a life-changing experience for me, and I highly encourage everyone to give it a try. If you’re still on the fence, here is a recording of Ali Edwards in a Zoom with her instructional team as they discuss choosing their word.

    I announced my word back in December, but I actually chose it much earlier than that. After the challenges of 2022, I thought it might be nice to choose something easy and fun. My word for 2023 will be “Light”. What will yours be?

    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 ...